Peterhead finished bottom of Premier Sports Cup Group A after losing in the Forthbank sunshine on Saturday.
Stirling deserved their victory but just missed out on reaching the last 16, with only three of the second-placed sides progressing this season.
This defeat ended the Blue Toon’s impressive run of results at Forthbank – they had won five matches on the trot here without conceding a single goal.
Defenders Jordan McGregor and Martin McNiff netted for the Binos inside 12 minutes and former Peterhead attacker Jack Leitch grabbed the third with a spectacular strike early in the second half.
Peterhead’s goal came from a Scott Brown penalty just 60 seconds after they had fallen behind but Albion continued the fine form that saw them beat Cove Rangers 3-2 and Inverness CT, on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
— Stirling Albion FC (@Stirling_Albion) July 24, 2021
Balmoor boss Jim McInally said: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb with our defending at the two corners, which was also a vulnerability for as last season.
“We lost the third goal just after half-time but I thought we dominated the game for the rest of it and I was pleased by how much fitter we look.
“We made changes and we were without Russell McLean, Andy McCarthy and Simon Ferry but we will have players back for Saturday.
“I don’t like losing but Stirling are an experienced side and physically they were too much for us at times but, overall, I was pleased enough with our general play.
“Stirling have a strong squad and will score plenty goals and I would expect them to do very well in League 2.”
Brown refuses to be downbeat
Midfielder Jordon Brown added: “When you concede bad goals from set-pieces it’s difficult but it was another good work-out for the league business next weekend.
“We could have finished second in the group potentially so it’s disappointing to lose.
“It was tough playing in that heat – we had water breaks at Peterhead last week and again here today and I never thought you would see that!
“We have to be confident going into the Alloa game on Saturday. We are at home and we showed against Cove last week what we are capable of.
“I know it’s a cliché but we just need to be a bit more clinical and avoid conceding bad goals.”
Stirling went ahead after only six minutes when centre-half McGregor was given space in the box to power home a header from a Leitch corner but Peterhead levelled almost immediately.
McGregor caught Hamish Ritchie in the area and Scott Brown confidently converted the penalty.
The Binos were soon back in front and it came from another corner. This time Nathan Flangan provided the delivery and left-back McNiff swept the ball home at the back post.
Leitch scored the clincher against his former club with a terrific strike from distance into the bottom right-hand corner in 47 minutes and there was no way back for the Blue Toon, although substitute Derek Lyle had a header disallowed for offside.
Albion boss Kevin Rutkiewicz, whose side kick off their cinch League 2 campaign at Stenhousemuir on Saturday, said: “It’s sore to come so close to reaching the last 16 and miss out but I’m proud of the players to finish second with eight points when a lot of people probably expected us to get nothing from the four games.”